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From Cardi B to Miley Cyrus: How your favourite celebs got their stage names

 Cardi B arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on May 1, 2019, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. [AP]

You may know of Cardi B, Ne-yo, Lady Gaga, or Vin Diesel by their stage names, but do you know their real names? Unfortunately, very few celebrities, especially in Hollywood, use their real names, and you are probably not familiar with how they ended up with their monikers. Today, we take a look at why your favourite celebrities ditched their real names; some of the stories behind their name changes will surprise you.


We grew up listening to Akon's songs, from Smack That to Lonely and many other great hits. The singer first revealed his real name on the Ellen Show in 2009, but since social media was not very popular back then, it never became a topic of discussion among people.

However, many were taken aback when someone on Twitter wrote Akon's full name, consisting of 12 words and 52 characters. On google search, the singer's real name is Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam. It is obvious why he chose to use Akon as his stage name.

Lady Gaga

The Grammy Award winner, popularly known for hits Just Dance and Bad Romance, was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and raised in New York. In October 2013, during an interview with Elle Magazine, Gaga said she changed her name because she associated Stefani with a "perpetually tortured artiste."

John Legend

The All of Me singer's real name is John Rogers Stephens. According to Intelius, his stage came about after his friend and poet J. Ivy told him that he thought his music sounded like "one of the old-school legends."

In 2006, John told the New York Times, "It was bold and I knew people would be like 'He had better be good if he is going to call himself John Legend. I said, 'Let me go out and make the best music I can and maybe after my career is over, I will have lived up to the name.'"

Cardi B

Cardi became a household name after her hit song Bodak Yellow went viral, but most people do not know that her stage name came from Instagram.

In 2016, the WAP singer tweeted that people referred to her as Bacardi growing up because of her sister's name Hennessy.

On Instagram, she used to call herself Bacardi B but eventually shortened it to Cardi B because her page kept getting deleted.

The Weeknd

Known for hits such as I can't feel my face, The Weeknd's real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye. According to Rolling Stone, Makkonen is the singer's father's name, who left him when he was about two years old.

The Weeknd disliked the name and came up with his moniker one weekend after dropping out of school. "It sounded cool. I took out the 'e' because there was already a Canadian band named the weekend," he said.


When producer Deon 'Big D' Evans told Ne-yo, real name, Schaffer Chimere Smith Jr., that he was like the "Neo" of the music industry, he did not know that the nickname would stick.

During an episode of Vevo's "A.K.A", Ne-Yo recalled being told by his producer, "It is like you see music the way Neo sees the Matrix."


In 2016, Halsey told Rolling Stone she did not like her real name Ashley Frangipane saying, "It was a person I thought was weak and silly and sad."

Halsey (an anagram of her first name) said she came up with the name after seeing a subway stop named Halsey Street in Brooklyn.

Miley Cyrus

Due to her cheery personality, the singer's father, Billy Ray, nicknamed her 'Smiley'.

Over the years, Cyrus, real name Destiny Hope Cyrus, shortened the nickname to Miley and legally changed her name in 2008.

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